Aiming for Equality Moving Communities is our chance to demonstrate our value and develop a universal service for all, argues Martyn Allison
port England and its partners should be applauded for the investment in Moving Communities, because it not only gets us further forward in the development of data-based evidence, it also brings together a range of data about how well we’re recovering from the effects of the pandemic while giving insights into how we can contribute to the huge challenges facing councils and the health sector. Money from The National Leisure Recovery Fund, recently distributed by Sport England, provided £100m to help address some, but nowhere near all, the financial problems being experienced by public leisure facilities, however, it leaves a problem which is likely to continue, despite reopening. Any operator or provider in a contractual relationship with councils will face a difficult year and the period between the May 2021 elections and the setting of the 2022/23 budgets will be critical in shaping the future of public leisure. There are three reasons we must now seriously engage with Moving Communities to maximise the quality and coverage of data it will provide:
1) Recovery It will enable us to track our own recovery and see how well this is happening, who’s returning to facilities, their views on the experience and how efficient and effective we are. By sharing and comparing data and evidence, we can identify and build on good practice and share innovation. Above all, we can learn from and support each other. 2) Evidence It will provide us with an evidence-based narrative to share with councils as they investigate future policy and financing of leisure services over the short-, medium- and longer-term. It will help us define who’s benefiting from our services, who’s not using them and their social value.
Many leisure centres have shifted from requiring subsidies by councils to making profits or surpluses
Sport England’s Moving Communities initiative is monitoring the impact of government investment in leisure centres
At the same time, their use by the less well off has fallen from 62 per cent in 2014 to 39 per cent in 2019
However, Moving Communities data is not fairly representing the whole of society and is focusing on gym memberships
Issue 5 2021 ©Cybertrek 2021